Monthly Archives: February 2014

Lynn Shepherd, Give Your Head A Shake!

Grumpypost

We have a saying in the Maritimes when someone does something stupid or doesn’t appear to be thinking clearly in some way. Whenever we see someone on self-destruct mode we feel the need, out of love, or concern, and sometimes quite frankly, confusion to say, “Give your head a shake!”

This week a piece was published in the Huffington Post by a writer named Lynn Shepherd entitled: If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It.

Now, if this post had been written by a reader or a critic I would have just given my own head a shake and moved on. Largely people who don’t write novels have no idea what the process entails and as such can be forgiven for making ignorant statements. But Lynn Shepherd is a novelist herself. Never mind the fact that she clearly states she hasn’t read any of J.K Rowling’s books but goes on to demean not just the writer but the author’s readers as well. Never mind that she makes the ridiculous argument that Rowling has ‘had her turn’ and ‘sucks the air’ out of the market so that nobody else can have a chance to sell anything (as if people can only read one writer).

Those things are bad enough, but honestly, that’s not what disturbs me about the piece. Really, Lynn Shepherd’s words are indicative of a bigger problem. Snobbery. Writers are absolutely disgusting to one another at times. If you don’t like what someone is doing it seems totally normal to not just tear them down, but their audience as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people discussing a book they enjoyed only to have someone else come along and make judgements on their intelligence based on the fact that they liked a particular book or writer. Nowhere else in the arts is this as big a problem as it is among the writing community, and frankly, it makes me sick.

Writers get up on their high horses, forgetting that their work is out there to be criticized as well. Shepherd is finding this out the hard way as people have begun giving her books one star reviews on Amazon, stating openly that they haven’t read them. They feel that turnabout is fair play. After all she did the same to J.K Rowling without cracking a page, why shouldn’t they do the same to her? I totally disagree as I’d never review or rate a book I haven’t read, but you have to realize, if you’re going to be a snob and drive a stake through someone’s heart, be prepared to have it driven through your own at some point.

I really believe that instead of focusing on what another writer is doing, a good writer is writing. A true artist is working all the time with their head down and largely not noticing what others are up to. If J.K Rowling sells millions of books and makes millions of people happy, why and how does that have a negative impact on me? You shouldn’t begrudge someone their rewards. As Stephen Pressfield said, “The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work. The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not come, whatever they like.”

None of us really have any control over how our books will be received, but we do have control over our actions. We can choose to behave toward each other with some class or we can belittle someone else’s success by telling ourselves that their stuff is no good and they don’t deserve it anyway because the public is ‘stupid’.

Perhaps if you’re going to do that you need to question why you became a writer in the first place. In other words, give your head a shake!

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The Unborn – Book Cover!

Here is the cover for the third book in my vampire series. The Vampires of Soldiers Cove: The Unborn.  Release date: April 1st!

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00073]

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So You Don’t Care About Ellen Page

Ellen Page

So, actress Ellen Page came out this week. How awesome is that?

Wait…what’s that I hear you saying? You don’t give a crap about it? You don’t care one way or the other? It makes no difference to you? Ellen Page is not a hero for coming out?

Well then…aren’t you enlightened. It must be nice to live in such a bubble that you can’t see what enormous guts it took for her to do that. You must have totally glossed over the portion of the video where, for a brief moment anyway, she looks scared to death. What’s that? You didn’t watch it? My bad. Here it is if you’re interested. I watched it and was actually pretty moved.

Look, I know most of us have gay friends at this point and it seems like ‘no big deal.’ They’re out and you still like them, love them in fact. I hear you. I have gay friends too. You know what I’ve never asked most of them though? What was it like to come out? We only think of it from our perspective. When they came out to us it might have been no big deal…to us. BUT…what was it like for THEM?

Perhaps for some of them it really was no big deal, but I know we would also hear lots of stories about sleepless nights, shed tears, fear and doubt. The worrying and wondering: will this or that person still want to talk to me? Will my parents still love me? Will I be in danger of losing my job or bullied at school?  But we largely don’t think of those things because, like a Hollywood actress, they don’t affect us directly.

Ellen Page might not have been your hero this weekend, but I guarantee she was a hero for someone. The backlash of people online is pretty harsh, and one only needs to read the comments of any article that was published about her this weekend to see why visible people coming out is still necessary. I know we are all looking forward to the day where it no longer matters, but guess what? That day is not today, and so yes, it’s news, and yes it’s important.

I had a volunteer gig a few years back where I sat on one end of a phone that people called when they were in crisis. If you’ve ever sat and listened to a young person cry and question their existence for any reason, and you have a heart at all, it would break. Some were gay and contemplating suicide for that reason alone. Even in Canada where we consider ourselves to be more progressive the world can still be a cold, cruel place for gay people, or anyone who is different. The day being gay no longer matters is the day they stop calling the crisis lines. I don’t work there anymore but I suspect if we were to ask the people that do they’d tell us those calls still come in on the regular.

It matters because it may save a life. That’s a farfetched concept to most people who are cynical about seeing celebrities trying to do some good, but not to me. I’ve listened to more than one person’s gay child tell me they want to die. If this saves even one family from having to stand and cry at the grave of their child while the coffin is lowered into the ground her coming out was more than worth it.

So to Ellen Page I say, thank you! Thank you for being brave. Thank you for not just thinking of yourself, but others as well. As far as I’m concerned you’ve done us proud here in Nova Scotia and I admire and salute you. Thank you for being here, and thank you for perhaps helping someone else stick around too. You didn’t have to do it, but you squared your shoulders and did it anyway. That’s my definition of a hero.

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Writing to Quiet Voices? I Don’t Think So.

So, here’s a question for my writer friends. Not that I’m excluding those of you who are strictly readers because you can certainly wade in on this as well. Here it is:

I see a lot of writers saying things like, ‘I write to quiet the voices’ or ‘The voices won’t shut up.’ Any and all variances you can imagine are put forth by writers on Facebook and Twitter daily. Now, I get what they’re trying to say, really I do. I know what it’s like to be overwhelmed by ideas and dialogue, but do you ever stop to consider what people who ACTUALLY hear voices might think when you say this?

Well, let me tell you. As someone who is both a writer and has a mental illness which causes me to have auditory hallucinations (voices) I get pretty pissed off. I know you don’t mean to piss me or anyone with mental illness off, but really, think about it. You hear voices? Really? No, you most likely don’t. I’m sure you hear the thoughts rumbling around in your head and they can play out pretty intensely to the point where, like I said, you are overwhelmed by ideas. But you hear voices? Pardon my language but…bitch please! NO you DON’T!

If you were to really hear voices you’d be on a drug for that. Hearing voices is not fun. It’s TORMENT!

And let me tell you, auditory hallucinations would probably make you the opposite of creative. I’ve known lots of other people with the same problem and the voices don’t whisper brilliant ideas. They don’t help with your writing in any way. In fact they are distracting and disturbing and mine at least, are severe assholes. It’s extremely hard to write when I’m hearing voices. It’s hard to do anything at all. When I see anyone referring to this as a kind of creative spark I think it both diminishes your faith in your own personal creative flow, and insults me.

I’m not under any kind of false impression that people are going to stop saying this anytime soon, but please, if you read this and you’re a writer please consider talking about your creativeness in another way. It’s not romantic or artistic to ‘hear voices’.  It’s a suffering that can only be understood by someone who has actually experienced it.  It’s a kind of mental torture the likes of which I hope you never know. If you’re actually hearing voices – and I say this in all seriousness – please see a doctor!

If you’d like to know what it’s REALLY like to hear voices you can read a post I wrote a few months back called, A Day with Psychosis. If you read that you’ll see what ‘hearing voices’ does to a writer. I hope that if you’re a writer that next time you catch yourself talking about the voices, you’ll stop and think first. It starts there.

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